Tried and Tested: British Airways B777-200 Club World
Check-in This was only the second week of the new Seoul service and this cold clear Saturday morning I arrived at the Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at 1030 for the 1300 departure on BA17 to Incheon, a flight of some 11 hours.
I was part of a large group of media on the flight, along with BA staff and Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG. I dropped off a bag and went through fast track, which was extremely slow – 15 minutes for me, with other members of the group claiming times of up to 30 minutes, with one in four bags being chosen for extra searches or security screening.
The lounge I went into the Galleries South lounge and had some coffee and pastries while waiting for the flight to be called.
Boarding The gate for this service is scheduled to be C but for this service was moved to A18, so we walked down the escalators, turned left and were quickly at the gate. On the airbridge I stopped to take a photo of the flags sticking out of the pilot’s windows.
The seat This was a B777-200 aircraft with four classes. Business class was in one cabin – rows ten to 15. I was in 15J, an aisle seat. To see a seatplan click here. (Note that one change to this seat plan is that seat 4K is missing, meaning there are actually 13 First seats rather than 14.)
My seat had a very wobbly armrest on the aisle side, and the headphone socket was slightly damaged meaning I had to keep it toggling it to hear the sound on the in-flight entertainment. The in-seat power worked fine though (a US adaptor was needed for a UK plug) and so I worked during the flight.
Which seat to choose? Choosing the best seat in Club World is a matter of preference, but for privacy I would always choose a window seat, and on this flight one of either 15A and 15K, since these are the only window seats which have unimpeded access to the aisle. I asked the passenger sitting in 15K if he had chosen the seat for that reason, but in fact he had been assigned it – lucky indeed.
The flight My jacket was hung up for me and I was offered a choice of water, orange juice and champagne, and then a selection of newspapers including the Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Mail and The Times. We pushed back from the stand on time, but it was a long wait for take-off, and this happened at 1325. Once airborne the Elemis amenity bags came round with flight socks, an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and paste, and moisturiser.
The crew were young (to this old man in his mid-forties – mixed fleet, I think) and were excellent throughout the flight. One note: Korea has some strict policies for customs, and though you can buy two litres of spirits on board, for instance (and of course may have bought various items at Heathrow), the limits for bringing into the country are only one litre of spirits, and a small bottle of aftershave, so a large bottle such as 100ml of aftershave would have to be declared.
Willie Walsh spoke to the assorted media during this flight and, in particular, addressed the possible purchase of Singapore Airlines' 49 per cent share in Virgin Atlantic by Delta - for more details click here.
The meal service started promptly, and we were offered the “Balanced Choices” menu, as follows:
- Starters grilled tiger prawns with aubergine bab ghanoush and creamy red pepper dressing; Five Mile Dairy goat’s cheese with blood orange dressing. Fresh seasonal salad.
- Main Bibimbap: with directions on how to make it - add gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) to steamed rice and vegetables. For mild add ½ tube, for spicy add full tube. Add sesame oil to taste. Mix the bibimbap together and enjoy the side dish and soup; steamed sea bream with green tea-infused sauce, braised chicory, carrot and cardamom mash and steamed cocotte potatoes; beef rib bulgabi, steamed rice with black sesame and Asian vegetables; Vietnamese sweet potato curry with mint and coriander rice. (I had the curry and it was delicious)
- Dessert toffee apple crisp delice with apple jus; fresh cut seasonal fruit; Barber’s Cheddar and Cropwell Bishop Stilton served with grapes and biscuits.
- Club Kitchen Teoni handmade shortbread, Ice Cream Union ice cream, Beckleberry’s pastries, Duchy Originals, Waitrose yoghurts, fresh fruit and sandwiches.
- Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve
- Whites Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet 2010, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, Burgundy, France; Waimea Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, New Zealand.
- Reds Chateau Faugeres 2007, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France; Jim Barry “The Lodge Hill” Shiraz 2009, Clare Valley, South Australia.
The layout of the wine menu is better than the old one since that one seemed to create expectations that all the wines listed would be on-board (despite a note pointing out that they wouldn’t). This one is simpler to read and they are all available.
Since this was a lunchtime flight which landed, UK time, around midnight but close to 9am Korean time, I tried to sleep and dozed for a few hours, then watched a two-part documentary about Australian tent fighting, which was very enjoyable. About 90 minutes before landing, breakfast was served, though this was termed a “Light Meal”.
- Starters Smoked salmon with capers or cream cheese panna cotta with pea and broad bean salad and pickled carrot dressing;
- Mains fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with sun-dried tomato-infused beef jus, Delmonica potatoes, roasted parsnips and courgette with thyme; chicken in Korean hot pepper sauce; penne pasta with cep mushrooms and truffle sauce. (We all thought it was amusing that beef was served in this style for breakfast, but I ate it and it was filling and it was very tasty).
Arrival The flight arrived on time and we had a brief pause for the flags to be pushed out of the pilots windows then taxied onto the stand. Once there we had a short walk to the transfer train, and then a long wait at immigration – 15 minutes – because the computer terminal in our queue had to be rebooted just as we got to the head of the queue. These things happen, but it would have been good if we hadn’t all been issued to the back of the queues around us to begin our wait once again, this time behind the passengers of a plane which had landed long after ours. Not surprisingly by the time we got through immigration our bags were waiting for us.
Verdict A good flight – the seat was a bit battered, but it was comfortable both as a seat and a bed and the service was friendly and efficient.
Tom OtleyLeave your own review with seatplans.com for your chance to win great monthly prizes
VintageKrug - 10/12/2012 11:06
Nice report. Good to see yet another "excellent" opinion of the Mixed Fleet crew, who seem to be getting into their stride now.
There is usually a lip balm in the inflight kit, as well as a hand moisturiser in addition to the face moisturiser.
Was the Club Kitchen amply stocked throughout the flight?
In addition to the two seats you mention, the middle seats 15 E, F also have unimpeded aisle access. 15K is generally not available for pre-allocation as it has a bassinet, so may be needed for late-booking parents with young children.
SiteAdministrator - 10/12/2012 15:36
Hello. Thank you. Yes, you're right about the lip balm and hand moisturiser.
The Club Kitchen ran out - of chocolate and crisps - but I'm sure if I'd asked some more could have been found.
I agree about those middle seats, but of course you have to sit side by side with someone, which can be a little off-putting.
Good point about the bassinet being there - I hadn't noticed it before.
Many thanks. Tom Otley
Alasdair - 10/12/2012 22:16
Nice report, shame about the BA hard product. Just one question for VintageKrug... why are you mentioning the opinion of the mixed fleet if you never do this of other BA fleets when favourable as often they are? In any case, isn't it simply as per requirement to perform their job to standard which should be "excellent?"
GoonerLondon - 11/12/2012 08:42
Not sure why you called the second meal service breakfast, and then have a poke because it wasn't very breakfasty - it was billed as a light meal, and the dishes chosen were more indicative of supper.
I've also used this flight and - like you - didn't really get enough sleep to think of this as a normal overnight flight. The schedule didn't really lend itself to that. So despite landing the morning local time, I think the choice of 2nd meal was right. I would have been very disappointed with a bacon and eggs offer.
I'd also 2nd you on the quality of the crew - friendly, enthusiastic and professional. I think it is important to specifically mention this as 'mixed fleet' because in the forum the professionalism and ability to organise a 'proper' service routine has been discussed to the end of the earth and back. My experience suggests there is no need to be concerned here.
VintageKrug - 11/12/2012 09:00
I mention it because it's a new group of staff working within the BA fold.
While Mixed Fleet was rushed in to demonstrate to the dysfunctional dinosaurs that BA was capable of quickly resourcing up against a strike, some premium service training did seem to have suffered as a direct consequence of the need to keep the airline flying; a reasonable compromise at the time, IMHO.
It's good to see the increasing number of people who perceive their "Mixed Fleet" experiences in the premium cabins as "excellent", directly contrary to the impression that the dysfunctional and increasingly irrelevant Union Branch would like to create.
mohamedbasma - 13/12/2012 11:36
It happens i was in this flight my ongoing flight was on world traveller plus and the return on club world, i will describe both journeys as the worst i've ever had, the crew was a mixture of greek, spanish, korean lady but with not much experience and on my return on the 11th the same crew was returning.
On my return journey the food service was so slow, many passengers (at least 4) were advised no more asparagus starters, me and my 2 korean neighbours were forgotten for the main dish for over 40 minutes and we have to draw their attention and to find out our choice of main dish was not available.
I've travelled business on air france, lufthansa and klm just to mention european airlines and British airways is the worst you can ever have.
The only good side BA is using Asiana lounge!!!! surprising??? I would have thought they will share Cathay Pacific or Qantas lounge.
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